I have not written on this blog for a good few years now, and at this point in time I do not feel that I should take up writing in this space again.   I have left up the blog as it was in 2009, because I see the chronicling of my time back then as (hopefully!) a testament to the Lord’s grace in both the good and the hard.  However, over the years various people have written desiring to know where my little family is in the world and what we are doing.  I have indeed continued to write, but as a songwriter and musician in the last years.  If you would like to keep up with me now and listen to some of my music, you can find me here:

www.letaylor.com

God bless you, and I look forward to connecting or reconnecting with you again!! 

Hey! Ho! To Texas I go!

Hey! Ho! For a mo-onth or so!

And I really wanna see ya, really wanna see ya.

I want you to know.

Hey! Ho! To Texas I go!

–my poem for today. the end.


Very, very, extremely important goals for this month:

1. See lots of friends.

2. Eat lots of pie (I might be willing to share some).

3. Go bungee jumping.

4. Get a tan, and let Jack go out in the sun with SPF 800 on a lot.

5. Think 85% of the time about non-dysfunctional situations in my life (hmmm…still deciding what those might be) and spend the other 15% supporting via phone some of my favorite people in the whole wide world who either are dysfunctional or are living in dysfunctional situations…or both.  But I don’t think I’m dysfunctional…yet.  Is that dysfunctional?

6.  Take Jack to see the REAL Lightning McQueen (are there any car races happening this month?) Ke-chow!

7. Write music about running through fields of wild flowers in dresses.

8. Run through fields of wild flowers in a dress.

9. Read lots of books about non-dysfunctional people who have non-dysfunctional thoughts, like, say, “Elmo And Friends Go On A Picnic”.

10. Go on a picnic.

11. Help those of my pregnant friends deliver their babies?  Hmm?  Don’t worry, I won’t steal your baby…

12.  Do all of this after I sleep for a week straight.

Whoosh, I’ve needed a vacation…

P.S. April 11, 2009, Life Community Church in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, 7 pm, The In-Between Service, me, music (with a banjo, an accordion and a glockenspiel…hyah!).  If you live in Illinois and would like to come to an Easter Service that happens on Saturday night, and would like to see me play an extremely short set, and be so nervous from stupid, pitiful stage fright that I might fall off the stage, then come. I’m claiming Christ’s victory over stage fright right now.

Hey…uh…I missed you guys.  So I’m just writing to tell you that.

You know, the winter is FINALLY starting to pass in ole Chicago.  It’s not the harshness of the winter here that bothers me.  The pastey, vitamin D deficient skin of my young spawn bothers me only a little.  It’s the length of the winter that bothers me.  It. Is. So. Freaking. Long. Come flowers! Come warmth! Come Sunny Sun Sun-ee! Come to me!  But now I hear some little birds that are chirping and staring at the slightly scary, hard-core-to-live-in-sub-zero-temperatures squirrels bounding away with leaves in their mouths. I feel the spring a-comin’.  It’s comin’ round the bend. And I ain’t seen the sunshine since…I don’t know when.  (Sorry, it was just so very fitting. Oh, Johnny, Johnny…I love you.)

No, actually this May marks the one year anniversary of Jack and I’s passage to Chicago, and up until about 2 weeks ago, I had no idea whether we were supposed to stay longer.  But I got my answer and we will stay indefinitely for now.  It just floors me that it’s been a year already.  It’s been a beautiful year of growing more in love with Nathan’s–my– family.  Though not an easy year, really.  Still bumpily learning to live as a single mother and without Nathan. Lots of learning about the past and wishing we didn’t still hurt from it.  Lots of learning about the present and wishing it might not hurt many years from now.  Lots of asking God to please make a peaceful life for us when we feel like we are a mess.  Then asking again at the next new mess.  And then again. And He will, we know, the question is just– when?

The last few weeks have been especially crazy– the biggest trial Nate’s family has had to face since he died, though it  most definitely pales in comparison to his death for myself– and I ache for them and especially for how it might affect my Jackabee. My Bible study had fallen to the wayside, so it felt like slipping in a warm bath to start studying it again this week. God brought me to a certain psalm that Moses probably wrote just after his brother, Aaron, and not too long after his sister, Miriam, died.  The parts that spoke to me most said this:

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may have wisdom.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.  May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the works of our hands for us– Yes, establish the works of our hands.”

Yes!  That’s my prayer, Lord!  I want to count everyday as important, and live this life wisely, joyfully, fully. I want joy in my life even as it feels like it can be afflicted with so much trouble sometimes. I want Your joy to course through my body and take over, even when it doesn’t make sense!  No matter how much I screw up and have screwed it up, please, please Lord…establish the works of my hands.  Make every part of my life glorify You. Make beauty out of my ashes…

I did my spring cleaning a couple of days ago.  Aaahhh.  Something spiritual about cleaning out my home, which makes my mind feel cleaned, which makes my heart feel cleaned.  With this cleaning, this shedding of the winter, comes that Hope again that God gives us just when we need it.  And I had such Hope that I wrote new verses on all of our mirrors.  Such a college dorm room thing to do, I know, but, hey,scripture verse, cross-stitched pillows are not my style, so it works for me…  But in searching through my Bible once again to write something on Jack’s mirror, He brought me to this:

“I life up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you– the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.”

And that comforted me.  It’s an especially comforting one for a mother to write over her little one when she’s worried.  And I realized this week as I was thinking about the year we’ve been in Chicago, that He really has watched over us so well.  He’s watched over those of us here and those of us there. He’s watched over our laughter and watched over our tears. He’s watched over our coming and our going.  He’s watched over our breaking trials and stupid mistakes.  And He’s let me grow more from them and He’s let Jack get even more dashing and handsome (He’s offering me invisible coffee from a sippee cup as we speak, and saying, “Mmmm, coffee…it’s stho deliciousth!” Writing a 2-year-old’s lisp is hard. Go with me here. Also, can you tell I’m a coffee addict?).  I’m so thankful. Even for the hard stuff that it takes to make me stronger.

But I’m especially thankful for the Hope of Spring, the Hope of Redemption.  I cannot think of the coming of Spring without thinking of the hopeful words that have begun so many important times in my life:

“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.  See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.  The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.  Arise, come, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.”

As I guess I expected, some parts of this year were a little easier than last, but other parts were a little harder. But this beautiful and hard first year of living in Chicago has nearly come to end.    The word “redemption” seems to echo over my weary heart (Maybe I’m actually hearing in it real life, too, since it’s Lent and I’m thinking about Jesus redeeming us…duh. Anyway, you’ll endure my drama so I can get my point across.). I’m excited to see what God does with all of us in this next year.

I love you, guys.  I just needed to talk to you about it. :)  Thanks for listening.

jack-and-jack-frost

Jack and Jack Frost wishing you a Merry Christmas.

mr

Our friend, pre-surgery.  You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

snowman-kiss

The cute mandatory kiss I always make him give to things in order to serve my selfish motherly pride of seeing my kid be really cute and sweet.

eating-nose

Cute and sweet turned a bit weird when Jack ate Jack Frost’s nose.  At first I tried to stop him, saying things like, “But Jack, we don’t eat our friends noses!”  But then I realized he was eating his vegetables, so I stopped… and let him.  He also ate part of my aloe vera plant that morning.  He was in a weird mood.  At first I tried to stop him, thinking, “I shouldn’t let him eat house plants!”  But then I realized it was a harmless aloe vera plant (well, okay, I checked online to see if it was okay first), and he was eating a vegetable-like substance.  So when he wanted more…I let him.

merry-christmas

Well, Merry Christmas, anyway, everyone. :) We love you!

Babies…

I’m thinking now that just about everyone that was pregnant at the time when I was pregnant with Jack has either by now had 1 to 2 more children, or is pregnant again as we speak. There are people that had no children when Jack was born that now have 2 children.  As of last week, 4 of my closest girl friends were all pregnant at the same time.  Now, I am truly ecstatic for all of them, let there be no question. Truly. Ecstatic. Ecstatic. Truly. Ecstuly. Tratic.

And, as all of these special women know, it’s also hard for me.  Since most of them live far away from me, it was easier to just be truly ecstatic because I didn’t have to be involved in the daily joyful process of growing bellies and giggles over tiny kicks that I just want so badly to feel again for myself.  That is, until my sister-in-law, who lives 1 block away from me, told me she was also pregnant. She wasn’t sure how to tell me, she said she even felt bad telling me (what a gracious sister she is), so she’d known for 2 weeks without telling me.  I was stunned, because I knew the baby was a surprise.  Well, surprise!  I looked like a deer in a headlight for a moment, smiled, laughed a little, and told her congratulations…and then against the will of every atom that makes up my body, I accidentally cried.  I accidentally cried a long time.  She came and sat on my lap, and hugged me.  So we sat and cried happily and nervously for the little doodle growing in her belly, and we sat and cried sadly for my empty belly.

This was about 2 or 3 weeks before Thanksgiving/Happy Heaven Day for Nathan, so I was already struggling emotionally and spiritually with my losses.  All these pregnant women, and one to stare at daily…I got angry with God about it.  I mean, Death was never His wish for any of us, but Life is only given by Him.  So why, at the most painful time of the year, was He increasing my pain by surrounding me with what I couldn’t have?  I don’t talk about them often, but Nathan and I had planned on having at least 2 more children, who were named Daisy Grace and Finnegan – who never got a middle name.  (By the way, if I hear of any of you naming your children these names after this post, I will come through the computer and strangle you…just so you know. Ahem.  Love you, though.)  I grieve them as if they were real people.  Not like I grieve Nathan, but like in the way if we had found out that Jack would be our last child and we could never have children again.   We wanted them, and, even now, I want them still.

Upon hearing of Mandi’s little doodle, I then took a few weeks to myself where I didn’t see them much.  I did it in order to work out my anger at the fact that I cannot have children at the moment, and can never have Daisy or Finnegan. I wanted to be fully happy for them, without feeling this selfish, stupid, lingering sadness that was all about me. It was a good and much needed addressing of an issue I had not really brought up with God much.  I became more okay with God’s plan for me to mother Jack only for now, I let go a little more of little Daisy and Finnegan, and I worked out that the reason they were never born was not because I would not have been a good mother to them, but for different reasons. After a couple of weeks, I felt stronger and my anger fully subsided, so I went over to her house.  I told her I was sorry I had avoided her, and she admitted she had felt hurt by my avoidance but forgave me.  We hugged, where I proclaimed the little doodle a girl, and told her I was going to teach her prenatal yoga and attempt to guess where the baby’s head was located on a weekly basis in her already growing belly.

The next day, she miscarried the baby.

Mandi and Tim came home from the hospital, sat on my couch, and we all cried a little. We cried for the little soul we would never know in this life.

“Now we can spit at all the pregnant women we see together,” Mandi wearily joked.  And we laughed, though we both know we’ll have to rise above spitting at pregnant women.  Actually, I prefer beebee guns.

I knew that they both knew it, but I had to say this sentence: “Guys, you know…this doesn’t make me feel better.  I loved that baby, too.”  Because I did love that baby of theirs that I never knew.  And they knew it.

Yesterday, we went out in the snow, and dug a hole.  Mandi had made a soft little bag for the tiny baby out of the corner of a bassinet sheet with pretty ribbon around the edge.  We laid the baby down in the hole, and said prayers lifting her to Heaven.  Her? I don’t know.  We think so, maybe.  We thanked God for her, and asked that her Uncle Nathan could help watch over her until we get there.  Nathan… Only a father for 3 months to his own child, but possibly fathering many babies who got to go straight to Heaven instead of face the cruel world.  We sang “Silent Night” for her… Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in Heavenly peace.  Sleep in Heavenly peace.

We were laying down Tim and Mandi’s tiny baby in that hole, but I was also laying down Daisy That Never Was and Finnegan That Will Never Be.  With the hope that though I may not have those babies–no more of Nathan’s babies–maybe there will be other ones, someday.

Goodbye, Little Doodle niece of mine.  I’ll see you again, bub.  Goodbye, Daisy Grace. Goodbye, Finnegan who never got a middle name.  I won’t see you, but I love the thought of you two.

Then we went inside the warm house, hugged the babies we still have, and listened to them giggle until they wore themselves out.

Thank You, God.

In 2 days’ time, it will be Thanksgiving, and it will also be the 2nd anniversary of Nathan’s death.  I wanted to tell a special story that is hard for me to write, but I also think God planned as an allusion to our life together, to our lives apart where I still fight the battle while Nathan stands with the great cloud of witnesses, and to a hint of the life He has planned for us in Heaven, which will no doubt include, the reunion of families that were torn apart on earth.  I can only imagine, but this I know, the greatest is still yet to come.  And on a day created for giving thanks to God, but the same day that a big part of me revolts and wants to make me hate this day forever, I will thank Him for this.  Thank You, God, for all that You have given, but, mostly, thank You that the greatest is still yet to come…

The weekend Nathan died, we had gone to Nate’s father’s house for Thanksgiving.  We’d visited 2 or 3 times, including a stay in the loft of the barn for a few weeks the summer before (re: The Woodrat). I never got to see Nathan much when we went to his father’s house, as he was always out helping his father with manual labor things that needed doing on a large property, but we usually got in some alone time by going fishing in the [what I now consider to be cursed] lake across the street or by walking in the woods.  But this year was different, because there was a little 3 month old boy that wasn’t quite equal to the task of fishing yet and wanted his mama to feed him every hour, so we didn’t get to go fishing together.  By the end of our vacation, I felt I had hardly seen Nate in 4 days and wanted him to walk with me.
We were leaving the next day, and though he had promised me a walk, he had spent the whole day out and about again.  He had invited one of his best friends, Matt, to come out to spend the night, and was excited about taking him fishing the next morning.  I watched as the day waned, the sun started to go down, and the air turn brisker.  There was a cold front coming in, as well as a good friend showing up at any moment, and my hopes for our private walk were distinguishing. So, I thought, we’ll return home to the daily grind of work and life without any time together on our much needed vacation. Disappointed and a little pouty, I took the fussy and tired baby to the back bedroom to nurse him to sleep.
Nate noticed my demeanor, which reminded him of his promise for a walk, and feeling a little badly he had waited so long, came in to smooth talk me.  He walked in and gave me a kiss as I was laying on my side in the bed nursing the mostly sleeping baby.  I remember he laughed a little with fatherly pride as Jack made sweet baby sucking noises, and put his hand on his son’s head.
“He’s such a content baby, Lauren. I think it’s because your such a good mother…” Then he looked into my eyes, and started on a monologue that lasted at least 5 minutes about how much he loved me and every reason why.  Lest you begin to think he was Perfect Husband Incarnate and these were our normal conversations, I will say you are wrong, though he told me he loved me regularly.  Most of the time, I spent my wiley womanish ways attempting to get him to tell me everything I ever wanted to hear:  how his eyes stung with reflecting upon my unmatched beauty, how my sharp wit chopped his mind to pieces, and how he was, even after 3 years, unable to cope with his love for me that consumed his every thought and feeling.  I aimed high and therefore managed to get many wonderful blessings from my husband that were more on the plane of reality, but, for a conversation such as the one he freely gave me that night, I usually had to work hard.  This night, however, he pulled out all the stops to try to woo me.
At the end of his monologue, he had softened me significantly, and he knew it because he could read me like an open book.  So he finished his award-winning speech by giving me a dashing smile, and whispered, “Come for a walk with me, Lauren.”
I was so overly elated at his speech and his eyes staring romantically at mine that I could feel myself begin to smile back, and I still wanted to act pouty. So I sucked in my cheeks while instead my nostrils flared out involuntarily at the effort to appear unmoved. “Nathan, it’s cold outside.  Matt’s going to be here any minute.  It’s already too dark to go for a walk.  And Jack’s sleeping, so I just want to sleep here with him.” Nathan may have given an award-winning speech, but I could win awards for my whining.  But his eyes never turned from my face and his smile never faded. “Sabrina said she would watch Jack.  It’s not too dark yet.  Matt can wait. And I’ll keep you warm. Come for a walk with me.”
Strength…to…withstand…fading…fast…Spotting my crumbling fortitude, Nate pulled in the clencher– the line from Song of Soloman he quoted to propose to me– and said, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one.  Come with me.”
With that, I was up and as long as I shall live I will always thank God that the same scripture that began our union together was also the one that began our last walk.
After piling on layers, boots, and coats, we stepped outside.  It was twilight, and through the quiet and calm, all had the feeling of the world winding down from the day.  We leisurely stopped by a puddle at the edge of the woods, and pointed out frogs in the water.  We walked a little farther, and I saw a mushroom like ones we had gathered and eaten the summer before.  He smiled quietly, proud of my growing knowledge in wild things, and then started on the trail. For the rest of the walk, Nathan and I didn’t say anything more to each other, but more was communicated than I could ever adequately describe.
I remember looking down at his feet as he led me along the trail.  They were so steady and sure, he was always most at home walking trails.  I loved how he could find the most hidden trail, follow it like an Indian, and, most of all, I loved to follow behind him as he led me, because I never knew what adventure he was leading me on.  He had been missing me over the weekend too, and didn’t want to just walk ahead of me.  So he reached back and took my hand, and we walked hand in hand like that with him reaching behind and me holding his hand with both of mine.  There would be a big log, he would step over, then reach back to help me over like a gentleman…  The trail would come close to the edge of a ravine it backed against, he would put his arm across the outside of me to protect me from falling… It would go up a steep, wet incline, he would kick out footholds for me in the earth, or have me step on top of his feet if he knew it was too slippery for me.  But he always held my hand.
Halfway, we came to a point where a humongous old-growth tree had fallen across the ravine, and it made a mossy tree bridge.  The huge stump was left sticking up out of the ground, 10-12 feet high, and hollow inside, for the old tree had rotted from the inside out.  The roots were so tall, they actually made a doorway, and we went inside the treehouse and explored.  He climbed to the top and looked out over the ravine quietly, as I sat down below and looked up at him.  After awhile, he climbed down, and gave me an absentminded kiss as he walked out. I followed him out, and he helped me get down a slope to where the tree bridge began at the edge of the ravine.
I could tell me wanted me to go with him out on the bridge, but I was too afraid.  So he let go of my hand, and quietly walked out to the middle of the bridge.  He just stood there, brooding, for what seems like a long time now.  I’ll never forget the last great image of my husband there.  He wore an Indiana Jones hat, coveralls that he would be unable to unzip with frozen hands the next morning as he tread frozen water, and hiking boots, now tucked neatly away in a chest at the foot of my bed, with the fishing wire that dragged him downwards into the water still wrapped tautly around the left ankle.  He stood still as a statue on that bridge and looked out contemplatively over the ravine and the world.  He was so handsome and strong, but I couldn’t go out on the bridge with him.
It was reflecting upon this image of Nathan the other day that I put something together.  My mother told us when we were engaged that she had had this thought that Nathan would be the “Watchman on the Wall” for our family.  She always stuck with it, and even in her funeral speech for Nathan, she called him the “Watchman on the Wall”.  To be honest, it never had any significant meaning for me.  I mean, yeah, I thought he was the Watchman on the Wall for us, because he looked out for us and protected us and all that.  But I couldn’t really connect it to him, and wondered why she felt so fervently like God had given it to her.  I had always been hesitant to write about our last walk together and never felt the timing was right… until I thought about our last walk as our life together.  And I saw Nathan standing on that bridge that I couldn’t go out on, and he was watching so fervently, so calmly, so contemplatively.  Then, I knew my mother had been right all along…While Nathan was the Watchman on the Wall for us it in our life together, for the remainder of it he will be watching and praying for us from the perspective that one can only have if they are higher than the ground level. Nathan is the Watchman on the Wall for our family from Heaven now, and he was always going to be, even before we were married.
After awhile, Nathan walked off the bridge and I climbed up a hill ahead of him.  We came to a clearing in the trees, and he reached out and grabbed ahold of my coat.  I turned around, and realized he wanted to hold me for awhile.  So I went to him and curled up into his chest while he held me.  We hugged like that for a long time.  We hugged so long we even swayed and slowly danced a little after awhile.  I was listening to his heart beat, and he smelled my hair, and we were content.  Looking back on it, it was a wonderful Goodbye Hug.  A Goodbye Hug where neither of us knew we were saying goodbye, but just thought we were saying we loved each other without words.  It was the last time we would really be together, but I imagine our Hello Again hug will be much the same one day.
After that, the sun finally went to sleep. Nate, the wild Indian man, chose a mysterious path through the woods that must’ve only existed for the rest of that day before growing over again, because I went out to find it many times over the next few days when I needed to get away from people and never found it.  But that night, it led us all the way home where the rest of the family and good friends were waiting for us.
Lord, I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving since the weekend Nathan went Home, but I want You to know that I give thanks for all my beautiful blessings, and even for the things that I don’t understand.  Thank You for it all.
Happy Heaven Day, Nathan.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Since I have established that we are, in fact, alive, some have asked for pictures.  Sheesh, if you give a mouse a cookie… Nah, I’m kidding.  Pictures:

lumberjack

Jack’s Halloween costume this year…a lumberjack. I made him “flapjacks” for breakfast, too.  Arf, arf. I’m a goof for Halloween. Does it make me unspiritual if it’s actually one of my favorite, maybe favorite, holiday?  Note the glued on mutton chops and chest hair…

chesthair

See?

laughyThe boys are still laughy, crazy, and driving their mothers insane–with joy, of course.

bottom

I have always felt that I wouldn’t be a good mother if I didn’t publicly display a picture of my naked children somewhere at some point…

ks-wedding

One of my best friends, Katy, got married, and it was so good to see so many friends.  I also sang, “Be Thou My Vision”. Yes, I performed.  That rarely happens nowadays because I’m also too scared.

memere

This is an older picture, but I love it.  This is when Jack’s Memere gave him his birthday present of Elmo sprinkler.  He had to be naked to fully enjoy it.  Actually, he’s naked a lot.  One of life’s joys is to be naked, I think, so I encourage it in my younguns.  I don’t encourage public nudity, though.  Just to make it clear, you know.

beach-days

One of those beach days I was talking about.  This was middle of September, I think.

mom

My mom and a couple of good family friends came up to visit.  We had a great time having high noon tea at the American Girl Doll Musuem, though I can’t say the same for Jack, who was forced to sit next to an American Girl doll that was attached to the table by a doll high chair.  Also, he might have been embarrassed that he looked like a dork with his jeans hiked up his calves, exposing white ankle socks with black shoes.  It really wasn’t his best day…

winterhat1

My sister-in-law, Mandi’s, mother knit Jack a winter hat.  He is obsessed with it, and has worn it 24/7 for at least 5 days now.  He even sleeps in it. And yes, he is eating hot dog, peanut butter puff cereal, and goldfish crackers for lunch.  I hadn’t been to the grocery store in awhile.  Don’t judge me.  Besides, they were whole wheat goldfish crackers.

jacks-outfit

And finally, what happens when one lets a 2 year old choose his own outfit.  We’ve got the favored winter knit hat, a 2 sizes too small onesie unable to snap over his bulk, swim trunks that are 2 sizes too big (by the way, it snowed here last night…it was beautiful too), and lumberjack house booties.  He’s on his way to becoming…a man that chooses his own clothing. :)

Funniest Jack story as of late:  I have Shakira’s “Wherever, Whenever” as my ringtone.  Jack now has most of the words memorized, and sings along with me whenever my phone rings.  I’m working on teaching him Latin dancing, too.

Yay. I’ll work on uploading a video, Melyssa.